I.C.A. President John Cipolla opened the board recital with repose and respect, honoring the young performers injured and lost in an accident the previous evening. In one accord the room was silent and reflective, lifting the victims and their families up in prayer and meditation. Without delay, Lisa Canning gave the opening address, reminding the room of the festival’s theme, entrepreneurship. Her words were inspiring, urging current musicians to “be a beginner [again]…be vulnerable [and embrace] new thoughts for a new day.” We all have other gifts to be combined with our clarinet for “it is not the only tool needed to build a house.” The musical medium is for more than the performer but also the inventor, businessmen and women, teachers, and advocates. Canning encouraged musicians to be ambassadors for the arts as they enter, and I might add, keep the arts.
Following the address, we once again heard from John Cipolla, the day’s first performer. He performed The Voice of the Onion by Kenneth Berger, assisted by Zachary Lopes on piano. The unity in their tutti passages was full of color, accentuating the jazz overtones within Berger’s work. No surprise as Berger is at home writing in the jazz idiom and the depth that Cipolla performs.
Immediately following, Caroline Hartig took stage, lightening the seriousness of performance with a small quip before performing Carlo Pedini’s L’Acciarino Di Weber per clarinetto solo. Her lines were fluid and her presence commanded your attention. The audience was so delighted with her execution, premature applause interrupted the final phrase of playful and impressive flourishes leaving her tickled and assured of the undeniable sparkle in her performance.
In a brief departure from treble sonorities, Tod Kerstetter took the stage with bass clarinet in hand to play Roger Jannotta’s transcription of Improvisation on “God Bless the Child” by Eric Dolphy. Kerstetter captured the thrill and nuance of improvisation with his fluid technique and raucous interjections of strength and power. One can only imagine there will be a flood of young clarinetists seeking out more bass clarinet repertoire in their training because of it.
Revisiting more traditional roots, Donald Oehler (clarinet), Keith Koons (basset horn) and Seong Eun Kim (piano) presented their interpretation of Concertpiece No. 2 in D Minor by Felix Mendelssohn. Being arranged for many instrumentations, it was refreshing to hear the piece brought back to its origins, showing the depth, color, flexibility of the basset horn.
Veterans of collaborative performance, The Sapphire Trio (Maxine Ramey-clarinet, Margaret Baldridge-violin, Jody Graves-piano) performed the first movement of Serenade for Three by Peter Schickele. Pristine in execution, the audience marveled at the communicative power and ease at which the group performs. Established in the late ’90s, The Sapphire Trio has had many notable performances, making ClarinetFest2014 one of many stops in their highly successful career as chamber musicians and entrepreneurs.
The recital ended with the same Bagatelle for Solo Clarinet (2004) by Alexei Pavlyuchuk performed by Stephan Vermeersch. The frenetic work was full of excitement and fire, making the percussive and punctuated slap tongue of the final note seem misplaced, yet strikingly satisfying in the textural juxtaposition. The necessity of a new music recital with various types of ensembles and contrasting instrumentations cannot be overlooked for an entrepreneurial conference, and this recital unabashedly embraced the diversity.
–Notes by Melissa Morales
Melissa Morales is a master’s student at DePaul University studying with Julie DeRoche and Larry Combs. She currently teaches at The People’s Music School and performs with The Candid Concert Opera’s Orchestra Nova and the Chicago Symphonic Winds.